Most women don’t have the money, time, or storage for a full wardrobe of brand new clothes and accessories. Dressing in style means adding classic-looking basics and pieces that truly express the new look you want. Start by purchasing any fashion essentials that you’re missing.

The following basic items are the building blocks for every wardrobe. Incorporate them with other pieces to express your personality and style. When you shop for these items, consider your body type and fit when choosing the cut, length, and style that works for you.

  • Little black dress (LBD)

  • Black blazer

  • Crisp white button-down shirt

  • Black trousers

  • Knee-length black skirt

  • Classic beige trench coat

  • Black leather bag

  • Dark denim jeans

  • Pair of black pumps

  • White cardigan sweater (to layer)

  • Black cardigan sweater (to layer)

  • Set of pearls

  • Diamond studs (can be cubic zirconium, if need be — just keep them small)

You may already have some of these items, but are they really high quality? If not, replace them with high-quality items. For these staples, it’s okay to spend a little more. (You can wait for a sale, but keep in mind that some of these items don’t go on sale very often because they’re always in demand.)

If you don’t have the money for a new one now, it’s better to wear your old raincoat for another season and buy a really good one next year. Remember, you’re not on a schedule. Building a stylish wardrobe is a gradual process.

These staple garments are the basis of your wardrobe; they have their own style — classic — and that speaks volumes. After you establish your basic wardrobe, you’ll add additional pieces to create your personal style.

As you shop, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose clothes that blend in rather than stand out. Creating a style using accessories is easier and less expensive, but for those accessories to shine, you need clothes that frame them, not overwhelm them.

    So make sure you have enough solids in your wardrobe. Having solids that you can wear over and over is easier on your budget and makes putting outfits together easier, too. You can do this with neutrals, which can be anything in the white, black, gray, or beige family.

  • Shop online or use the Web if you lack the time to go shopping. If you’re completely frazzled when you hit the mall, then your attitude may stop you from seeing how a particular article of clothing can help you to express yourself.

    Offsetting this lack of time are all the new ways to shop, especially the Internet. If you can’t get to a store, set aside some time at night when you can surf the Web. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can print out the type of clothes you like. Then when you go to a store, you can follow the decisions you made when you weren’t so stressed out.

  • Buy things you like. Even if you buy an item at a time, after a while they’ll start to match up. After all, they all suit your taste, and with that common denominator, eventually they’ll mesh.

    If you see a blouse that you really love but you feel like you have nothing to go with it, buy it! You probably already own something it will go with, or you’ll buy something soon enough that will be its perfect mate! By the way, 99 percent of all the blouses you own will go with jeans, a black pencil skirt, or classic black pants. (Just an FYI for when you say to yourself “I have nothing to wear with this!”)